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Hopalong Cassidy (Center Point Western Complete (Large Print)) Hardcover – Large Print, October 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
Book 3 of 28 in the Hopalong Cassidy Series

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About the Author

Clarence E. Mulford (1883-1956) is the creator of the character Hopalong Cassidy, who appeared in sixty-six films, twenty-eight novels, and a long-running television series.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

CHAPTER I
 
Antonio's Scheme
 
 
The raw and mighty West, the greatest stage in all the history of the world for so many deeds of daring which verged on the insane, was seared with grave-lined trails. In many localities the bad-man made history in a terse and business-like way, and also made the first law for the locality--that of the gun.
There were good bad-men and bad bad-men, the killer by necessity and the wanton murderer; and the shifting of these to their proper strata evolved the foundation for the law of to-day. The good bad-man, those in whose souls lived the germs of law and order and justice, gradually became arrayed against the other class, and stood up manfully for their principles, let the odds be what they might; and bitter, indeed, was the struggle, and great the price.
From the gold camps of the Rockies to the shrieking towns of the coast, where wantonness stalked unchecked; from the vast stretches of the cattle ranges to the ever-advancing terminals of the persistent railroads, to the cow towns, boiling and seething in the loosed passions of men who brooked no restraint in their revels, no one section of country ever boasted of such numbers of genuine bad-men of both classes as the great, semi-arid Southwest. Here was one of the worst collections of raw humanity ever broadcast in one locality; it was a word and a shot, a shot and a laugh or a curse.
In this red setting was stuck a town which we will call Eagle, the riffle which caught all the dregs of passing humanity. Unmapped, known only to those who had visited it, reared its flimsy buildings in the face of God and rioted day and night with no thought of reckoning; mad, insane with hellishness unlimited.
Late in the afternoon rode Antonio, "broncho-buster" for the H2, a man of little courage, much avarice, and great capacity for hatred. Crafty, filled with cunning of the coyote kind, shifty-eyed, gloomy, taciturn, and scowling, he was well fitted for the part he had elected to play in the range dispute between his ranch and the Bar-20. He was absolutely without mercy or conscience; indeed, one might aptly say that his conscience, if he had ever known one, had been pulled out by the roots and its place filled with viciousness. Cold-blooded in his ferocity, easily angered and quick to commit murder if the risk were small, he embraced within his husk of soul the putrescence of all that was evil.
In Eagle he had friends who were only a shade less evil than himself; but they had what he lacked and because of it were entitled to a forced respect of small weight--they had courage, that spontaneous, initiative, heedless courage which toned the atmosphere of the whole West to a magnificent crimson. Were it not for the reason that they had drifted to his social level they would have spurned his acquaintance and shot him for a buzzard; but, while they secretly held him in great contempt for his cowardice, they admired his criminal cunning, and profited by it. He was too wise to show himself in the true light to his foreman and the outfit, knowing full well that death would be the response, and so lived a lie until he met his friends of the town, when he threw off his cloak and became himself, and where he plotted against the man who treated him fairly.
Riding into the town, he stopped before a saloon and slouched in to the bar, where the proprietor was placing a new stock of liquors on the shelves.
"Where's Benito, an' th' rest?" he asked.
"Back there," replied the other, nodding toward a rear room.
"Who's in there?"
"Benito, Hall, Archer an' Frisco."
"Where's Shaw?"
"Him an' Clausen an' Cavalry went out 'bout ten minutes ago."
"I want to see 'em when they come in," Antonio remarked, headed towards the door, where he listened, and then went in.
In the small room four men were grouped around a table, drinking and talking, and at his entry they looked up and nodded. He nodded in reply and seated himself apart from them, where he soon became wrapped in thought.
Benito arose and went to the door. "Mescal, pronto," he said to the man outside.
"Damned pronto, too," growled Antonio. "A man would die of alkali in this place before he's waited on."
The proprietor brought a bottle and filled the glasses, giving Antonio his drink first, and silently withdrew.
The broncho-buster tossed off the fiery stuff and then turned his shifty eyes on the group. "Where's Shaw?"
"Don't know--back soon," replied Benito.
"Why didn't he wait, when he knowed I was comin' in?"
Hall leaned back from the table and replied, keenly watching the inquisitor, "Because he don't give a damn."
"You--!" Antonio shouted, half rising, but the others interfered and he sank back again, content to let it pass. But not so Hall, whose Colt was half drawn.
"I'll kill you some day," he gritted, but before anything could come of it Shaw and his companions entered the room and the trouble was quelled.
Soon the group was deep in discussion over the merits of a scheme which Antonio unfolded to them, and the more it was weighed the better it appeared. Finally Shaw leaned back and filled his pipe. "You've got th' brains of th' devil,' Tony."
"Eet ees not'ing," replied Antonio.
"Oh, drop that lingo an' talk straight--you ain't on th' H2 now," growled Hall.
"Benito, you know this country like a book," Shaw continued. "Where's a good place for us to work from, or ain't there no choice?"
"Thunder Mesa."
"Well, what of it?"
"On the edge of the desert, high, big. The walls are stone, an' so very smooth. Nobody can get up."
"How can we get up then?"
"There's a trail at one end," replied Antonio, crossing his legs and preparing to roll a cigarette. "It's too steep for cayuses, an' too narrow; but we can crawl up. An' once up, all hell can't follow as long as our cartridges hold out."
"Water?" inquired Frisco.
"At th' bottom of th' trail, an' th' spring is on top," Antonio replied. "Not much, but enough."
"Can you work yore end all right?" asked Shaw.
"Yes," laughed the other. "I am 'that fool, Antonio,' on th' ranch. But they're th' fools. We can steal them blind an' if they find it out--well," here he shrugged his shoulders, "th' Bar-20 can take th' blame. I'll fix that, all right. This trouble about th' line is just what I've been waitin' for, an' I'll help it along. If we can get 'em fightin' we'll run off with th' bone we want. That'll be easy."
"But can you get 'em fightin'?" asked Cavalry, so called because he had spent several years in that branch of the Government service, and deserted because of the discipline.
Antonio laughed and ordered more mescal and for some time took no part in the discussion which went on about him. He was dreaming of success and plenty and a ranch of his own which he would start in Old Mexico, in a place far removed from the border, and where no questions would be asked. He would be a rich man, according to the standards of that locality, and what he said would be law among the peons. He liked to day-dream, for everything came out just as he wished; there was no discordant note. He was so certain of success, so conceited as not to ask himself if any of the Bar-20 or H2 outfits were not his equal or superior in intelligence. It was only a matter of time, he told himself, for he could easily get the two ranches embroiled in a range war, and once embroiled, his plan would succeed and he would be safe.
"What do you want for your share, Tony?" suddenly asked Shaw.
"Half."
"What! Half?"
"Si."
"You're loco!" cried the other. "Do you reckon we're going to buck up agin th' biggest an' hardest fightin' outfit in this country an' take all sorts of chances for a measly half, to be divided up among seven of us!" He brought his fist down on the table with a resounding thump. "You an' yore game can go to hell first!" he shouted.
"I like a hog, all right," sneered Clausen, angrily.
"I thought it out an' I got to look after th' worst an' most important part of it, an' take three chances to you fellers' one," replied Antonio, frowning. "I said half, an' it goes."
"Run all th' ends, an' keep it all," exclaimed Hall. "An', by God, we've got a hand in it, now. If you try to hog it we'll drop a word where it'll do th' most good, an' don't you forget it, neither."
"Antonio is right," asserted Benito, excitedly. "It's risky for him."
"Keep yore yaller mouth shut," growled Cavalry. "Who gave you any say in this?"
"Half," said Antonio, shrugging his shoulders.
"Look here, you," cried Shaw, who was, in reality, the leader of the crowd, inasmuch as he controlled all the others with the exception of Benito and Antonio, and these at times by the judicious use of flattery. "We'll admit that you've got a right to th' biggest share, but not to no half. You have a chance to get away, because you can watch 'em, but how about us, out there on th' edge of hell? If they come for us we won't know nothing about it till we're surrounded. Now we want to play square with you, and we'll give you twice as much as any one of th' rest of us. That'll make nine shares an' give you two of 'em. What more do you want, when you've got to have us to run th' game at all?"
Antonio laughed ironically. "Yes. I'm where I can watch, an' get killed first. You can hold th' mesa for a month. I ain't as easy as I look. It's my game, not yourn; an' if you don't like what I ask, stay out."
"We will!" cried Hall, arising, followed by the others. His hand rested on the butt of his revolver and trouble seemed imminent. Benito wavered and then slid nearer to Antonio. "You can run yore game all by yore lonesome, as long as you can!" Hall shouted. "I know a feller what knows Cassidy, an' I'll spoil yore little play right now. You'll look nice at th' end of a rope, won't you? It's this: share like Shaw said or get out of here, and look out for trouble aplenty to-morrow morning. I've put up with yore gall an' swallered yore insultin' actions just as long as I'm going to, and I've got a powerful notion to fix you right here and now!"
"No fightin', you fools!" cried the proprietor, grabbing his Colt and running to the door of the room. "It's up to you fellers to stick together!"
"I'll be damned if I'll stand--" began Frisco.
"They want too much," interrupted Antonio, angrily", keeping close watch over Hall.
"We want a fair share, an' that's all!" retorted Shaw. "Sit down, all of you. We can wrastle this out without no gunplay."
"You-all been yappin' like a set of fools," said the proprietor. "I've heard every word you-all said. If you got a mite of sense you'll be some tender how you shout about it. It's shore risky enough without tellin' everybody this side of sun-up."
"I mean just what I said," asserted Hall. "It's Shaw's offer, or nothin'. We ain't playing fool."
"Here! Here!" cried Shaw, pushing Hall into a seat. "If you two have got anything to settle, wait till some other time."
"That's more like it," growled the proprietor, shuffling back to the bar.
"Good Lord, 'Tony," cried Shaw in a low voice. "That's fair enough; we've got a right to something, ain't we? Don't let a good thing fall through just because you want th' whole earth. Better have a little than none."
"Well, gimme a third, then."
"I'll give you a slug in th' eye, you hog!" promised Hall, starting to rise again, but Shaw held him back. "Sit down, you fool!" he ordered, angrily. Then he turned to Antonio. "Third don't go; take my offer or leave it."
"Gimme a fourth; that's fair enough."
Shaw thought for a moment and then looked up. "Well, that's more like it. What do you say, fellers?"
"No!" cried Hall. "Two-ninths, or nothin'!"
"A fourth is two-eighths, only a little more," Shaw replied.
"Well, all right," muttered Hall, sullenly.
"That's very good," laughed Benito, glad that things were clearing.
The others gave their consent to the division and Shaw smiled. "Well, that's more like it. Now we'll go into this thing an' sift it out. Keep mum about it--there's twenty men in town that would want to join us if they knowed."
"I'm goin' to be boss; what I say goes," spoke up Antonio. "It's my game an' I'm takin' th' most risky end."
"You ain't got sand enough to be boss of anything," sneered Hall. "Yore sand is chalk."
"You'll say too much someday," retorted Antonio, glaring.
"Oh, not to you, I reckon," rejoined Hall, easily.
"Shut up, both of you!" snapped Shaw. "You can be boss, Tony," he said, winking at Hall. "You've got more brains for a thing like this than any of us. I don't see how you can figger it out like you do."
Antonio laughed but he remembered one thing, and swore to take payment if the plan leaked out; the proprietor had confessed hearing every word, which was not at all to his liking. If Quinn should tell, well, Quinn would die; he would see to that, he and Benito.
 
All new material copyright © 1992 by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Center Point Western Complete (Large Print)
  • Hardcover: 398 pages
  • Publisher: Center Point; Lrg edition (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611731941
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611731941
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,510,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandra Beecher on January 6, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book turned out to be far more interesting than I anticipated it would be. Rarely do you get the feelings of comraradie found among ranch hands, or envision them doing the day to day tasks such as washing or mending clothes from films about the old west. I have also read several books by Larry McMurtry and Louis D'Amour in years past and have not felt the emotions of the cowboy come through as strongly as in this book. In one episode one of the men lost a friend whom he had known throughout his school days, killed by rustlers. The sadness and anger felt by this loss of friendship and senseless death colored the rest of the novel.

You are sure to enjoy this work especially if you have an interest in the Old West!
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Clarence Mulford's tales of Bill 'Hopalong" Cassidy were popular long before Hollywood, their magazine appearances often accompanied with illustrations by the great N.C. Wyeth, and making their way to the bestseller list, but Mulford's Cassidy has little in common with the beloved film and television character portrayed by Bill Boyd as a white haired black clad hero on a white horse.

Instead Cassidy is a hard drinking heavy smoking cowboy and gunfighter who can't pass up a fight or a bar. The rollicking adventures of Cassidy, Johnny Nelson, Buck, and the rest of the Bar 20 crew are wild tales of outlaws, rustlers, and even a close call with being shanghaied.

Mulford didn't begrudge Boyd his version of Hoppy, stating once that he had his Hoppy and Boyd his. Read these entertaining western classics from the slicks (Hoppy only became a pulp character when Louis L'Amour under another name helmed the Hopalong Cassidy pulp), wild wooly, whisky soaked, and fogged in gunsmoke and get to know Mulford's Hoppy. He is not a Saturday morning kids cowboy hero.
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By Jeff on November 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have read most of Louis L'Amore's books and he would reference this author and these books in some of his novels. I gave them a try and found them to be a good read with good story lines. I would recommend these books to other western fans!!
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Hopalong Cassidy is Mulford’s third book about the cowpuncher from the Bar-20 Ranch in Texas. This time a range war brews between the Bar-20 and neighboring H2 over water and grass. Hoppy heads the “line riders” patrolling boundaries between the two ranches. Cassidy “proved himself to be the best man on the ranch when danger threatened. He grasped situations quickly and clearly and his companions looked to him for suggestions when the sky was clouded by impending conflict.” The reader is told several times that Cassidy has never been bested in a fair gunfight. Unlike Bill Boyd, Hopalong’s hair and moustache are red. He tends to be testy and confrontational, but he loves the daughter of the neighboring rancher who is causing the war—a melodramatic complication. She returns his love. Hopalong wears a wildflower she gave him in his buttonhole and threatens to slug any fellow in the bunkhouse who makes fun of it.
Mulford’s characters speak in western dialect: Seeing a man sneaking up on him and his friend, Pete, at dawn, Hoppy says to himself, “You can’t fool me, by G—d! I’ll let you make yore play—an’ if Pete don’t kill a few of you I’m a liar. Here are th’ shells—pick out th’ pea.” Foremost among rustlers are three “greasers” from Mexico who work for the H2, a jarring racist label that is surprising nowadays. The reader is not told if cowboys hate Mexicans generally or just these in particular. In any event, men from both ranches swear they can hardly wait to shoot them. Oddly, interplay between white cowboys is so full of teasing and put-downs one wonders how they can be friends.
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If you are expecting a book that is like the old 1950's TV show character you might be disappointed. Myself I am quite happy with it.

Louis LaMore once wrote a few Hopalong books. I think he was under contract to do it and had the understanding that he could do them like Clarence Mulford did. Unfortunately it was not in writing and the publisher later told him he would do the cleaned up version or else. Louis was not happy about that but he did as he was told. He was so angry about it that when he became famous years later he denied that he had written them. His son explained why he lied after his death. He stated that after Louis had lied about it a few times he felt that he could not back down from his statement.

After reading quite a bit of this book I wonder if Mr. Mulford influenced Louis's writing style. I'd bet it did.

I like this version of Hopalong. He talks like the rough old men I knew when I was a kid. It's like a trip down memory lane. Some of the epithets I have not heard since I was a kid. I saw where one reviewer said he was a crude, rough, and dangerous man. It made his sound like some kind of criminal. Yes the Hopalong character is all that but he's like they would call in the old West "A good bad man" A fairly honest hard working man who you would not want to have angry at you yet at the same time one who is kind and gentle to women and kids. The bad bad man of old was one who was dishonest most of the time. He might be a coward who is only good with a gun or will steal only when he knows he won't get caught or can preferably blame it on someone else. A bad,bad man can also be as good with his fists as well as with a gun. He will also steal things right out under the victims nose and don't care how they feel about it.

I feel that this book is a good way for younger people to get to know what people of the old days were like.I recommend this book to all.
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